DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO -- Qualified 3rd: "I was pretty happy with my lap. I think the Gibbs cars are going to be strong, because they both ran good in practice. I didn't think we had quite enough grip to get...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO -- Qualified 3rd:
"I was pretty happy with my lap. I think the Gibbs cars are going to be strong, because they both ran good in practice. I didn't think we had quite enough grip to get the pole, but we've still got a pretty good car. If we can start up front somewhere and keep doing it every week--it's all we can do. We're real happy and real excited with the Budweiser car. We're doing great, the team's doing great and I'm pretty proud of them."
"We seem to qualify well here. We had the June MIS event record (broken by Bobby Labonte today) and a couple of thirds and a couple seconds maybe. We just haven't gotten good finishes here at all. We're just trying to concentrate this weekend wholeheartedly on trying to get the race set-up for comfortable and long- lasting, of course. We start up front here and we run 50-55% of the race up front and we're just not there at the finish. That's kind of been different this year for us and hopefully we can continue that this weekend."
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER TRACK RECORDS?
"I think I might have had one of the track records for one of the races at Charlotte, but not the overall track record. Track records are really cool actually. The fact that I was the first driver to go over 190 mph here was neat -- pretty cool for me [Note: Earnhardt does hold the overall MIS track record]. It was a good feeling. It's just another notch on your resume and accomplishments that you can tell your nay-sayers when you retire."
DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE GOING FOR THIRD OR THAT YOU HAD A SHOT AT THE POLE?
"No, I never felt like I was going for third. I feel like I was trying to put down a pole lap. But the thing about Bobby (Labonte) is that he always has a customary seven-tenths saved up somewhere. And he only uses as much of that seven-tenths that he needs to. If he's seven-tenths off the pace, he might use it all. If he's only underneath by a tenth, he'll only use a tenth of it. But he's so good at driving his car that he knows what he needs to do. There's something about him that he always has a little extra -- especially at qualifying practice. He always picks up so much. I felt like he was going to be the guy to beat."
ON THE REPUTATION THAT MIS IS A FORD TRACK AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HAVING CHEVROLETS UP FRONT
"I was watching Winston Cup revisited on Speed Channel the other day and they mentioned that this place has always been fond of the 'blue ovals'. As far as the Pontiacs and Chevrolets, we've got better race cars than we had last year. We've got more downforce than we had last year. Hopefully we can put some GM product up front this weekend and stay up front and win the race."